Last week, UK based Christian rapper MC Tempo dropped a response track to Jahaziel’s ‘Grand Rising’; itself a response to Christian rapper S.O’s ‘Fall’.
According to Premier Christianity, this has “Sparked a rap battle over Christian truth.” But is this even as big a deal as people think it is? It isn’t actually anything new within the realm of CHH. Maybe it’s something we haven’t seen reach the shores of the UK before and with such “high-profile” players involved; but the most astounding thing about all of this is that some may think it is something new!
I love Christian Hip-Hop and I love apologetics. My favourite CHH album of all time is (hands down) Hazakim’s “Theophanies – Hip-Hologetics Volume 2” which combined musical genius and lyrical content with the defence of scripture. The album was instrumental, not only in getting me into Christian Hip-Hop but solidifying my understanding of Christ’s pre-incarnate appearances within the Old Testament. It was released in 2009; that’s almost a decade ago. And this is precisely my point; that people think this is something new within CHH (let alone Christianity) is part of the problem.
Is there something to respond to? Yes. But does Jahaziel need responding to? Not necessarily.
The fact of the matter is that he himself may have been a victim of the very problem I’m talking about. The vast majority of his challenges aren’t new; believers have been refuting the same points for the last two thousand years. But if one’s grasp of Church History doesn’t extend much further than the 21st century, they’re not going to know that. The reason why many Christians get tripped up by a Jahaziel isn’t because there aren’t answers, but because most Christians don’t know them or know where to find them. That it took twenty years in the faith for Jahaziel to even come across the “unanswered questions” that led to his apostasy is astonishing. Is the church just not being equipped?
That being said, if there is any issue Jahaziel raises that merits a response, it’s the relationship between Christianity and the “Black community”
- Is Christianity really the “White Man’s Religion”?
- Did Moses plagiarise the Ten Commandments from the 42 Affirmations of Ma’at?
- Should black people return to the original spirituality of their ancestors?
- Should the church be more involved in opposing police brutality?
- Are the racial injustices committed against black people, even to this day, something the Body of Christ can just ignore?
These questions are relevant because many within the black community who claim to be “Woke” are asking them. Conversely, the church either largely remains silent or claims that these issues are not relevant to the Gospel. Events over the last year have shown that racial divides still exist within the Body of Christ, and few know how to address them. In my opinion, this is a bigger issue than most of the challenges Jahaziel raises because it is the one issue that few within the church know how to answer. The more the church remains silent, the more “Woke-Folk” feel justified in dismissing her.
And this brings me to my final point. What we don’t need is a rap battle.
What made Hazakim’s Theophanies so effective is that it wasn’t a one-track hit piece, but a skilfully executed concept album. These things take time and a single song just won’t cut it. Even then, a single album cannot be relied upon to stand by itself on these issues.
Entire books with multiple volumes have been written on similar subjects. Even a formal debate can span 3 hours and not fully penetrate the issues. So maybe what we ultimately need isn’t for rappers to fight our battles for us but for everyday believers to become fully equipped as they meet with everyday people. 140 characters on twitter, or a picture on Instagram aren’t sufficient to deal with these issues; we shouldn’t get all of our theology or even apologetics from social media. The church grows up in maturity when the whole body builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
When God commissioned Bezalel and Oholiab to build the tabernacle and its furnishings, placing His Spirit upon them in the process, He didn’t leave them to do the work all alone:
“Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan.” – (Exodus 35:30-34)
God inspired them to teach others. The question is, who will step up to the plate and equip the church?
(Check out the videos for yourself below; be advised that “Grand Rising” contains some explicit language)